Lack of Quality Leadership at USD 407 at 2013 graduation? You Decide!

For the second time in two weeks, I found myself visiting family to attend events at the facilities of USD 407. Once again, I am utterly disgusted and unimpressed.

As the six o’clock hour of May 17 comes into frame on Facebook, the speculation begins. The weather forecast becomes like the drama of a bad Soap Opera. There was no notification to the contrary, so our youth took the streets to make history at the 2013 USD 407 High School graduation. As the youth at Russell High School prepare with make-up and clothing to take this cornerstone step into the future, I have to believe that the impending storms and the forecasted doom were on the minds of the administrative team of USD 407. At 7:00 pm, the Amos-Morris Gymnasium begins to fill with the friends and family of 2013 graduates. The band takes their seats, as every Verizon Wireless phone in the area sirens as the text messages come through: “Tornado Warning in this area till 8:00 PM CDT. Take shelter now. Check Local Media. – NWS.”

Every google enabled device in the room encounters an “emergency alert,” accompanied with the red and white cross.

“At 7:08 pm CDT, a confirmed tornado was located 5 miles north of Victoria, and moving northeast at 35 mph. Hazard, damaging tornado and golf ball size hail. Source, weather spotters confirmed Tornado. Impact: mobile homes will be heavily damaged or destroyed. Significant damage to roofs, windows and vehicles will occur. Flying debris will be deadly to people and animals. Extensive tree damage is likely.”

Clearly this was a big deal! Yet, the time passes. The storm rolls closer. The murmurs continue among the crowd. Yet,the festivities of USD 407 at Russell High School continue despite the blatant directive by the weather service to take shelter. I am simply saddened and disgusted that the leadership in this school district didn’t execute better. Heck, I am saddened the leadership didn’t execute at all! My family yielded the weather service directives, left and took shelter. Later, it was reported that no announcement was made to warn guests of the warnings or storms headed toward the community. No directive given for safety or shelter. The Superintendent of USD 407 failed!

I could go on and on listing the continued alerts of storms and “take shelter directives” made by weather service and emergency management agencies; but the point is mute. The reality is bold. It is clear and it is simply stated. It simply cannot be refuted or reasoned away. There were multiple alerts to “take shelter.” There were multiple alerts of sighted tornados. The alerts and directives to protect the safety of students and the general public in attendance were ignored. Did the team of USD 407 ever direct the public and the students to take shelter according to their own rules and specifications with regard to the notifications of the NWC? No. Simply put, they failed! They failed to lead. They failed to consider the greater good. They failed, period!

The harsh reality is that the administrative team of USD 407 knew of the alerts/warnings and opted to do nothing. Despite outlined protocol that USD 407 is required by law to have drafted and published of its own accord, the administration opted to violate the rules of its own protocol. (Honestly, I am only assuming they have in place, because they are required by law to do so. If not, USD 407 has much bigger issues with many agencies. Are those agencies reading this?) Interesting, isn’t it?

Who is going to hold David Couch, Superintendent of Schools, accountable? And when?

Should an agency investigate this incident and determine fault?

Seriously… when?

Shara Schnell
Kansas City, KS
(913) 730-6116